Driving home from Mamma Lucia's Italian restaurant tonight, we passed one of last open fields in this part of the county. It was almost full dark, a fingernail moon glowing in the dark blue sky, the humidity hanging almost visibly in the air, still hot even at nine o'clock.
Rising from the long grass in the field were hundreds of lightning bugs, pricking the darkness with pinpoints of light.
The sight brought back a vivid memory. When I was a teenager, I woke up in the middle of a hot, summer night. I noticed a strange light outside my window and sat up to take a look. There was a full moon filling the backyard with pale light, but the lightning bugs -- thousands of them in those days -- sparkled in the night. The yard was alive and awake with the night creatures. I remember writing in my diary about it; I even remember the first line: It's a very light night.
We kids used to punch holes in the lids of jelly jars. Then, in the early evening, we roamed around the backyard (we had almost an acre -- a large yard for our neighborhood) and caught lightning bugs in the jars. We 'd have contests to see who could catch the most, thinking that we were creating our own natural lanterns. It never quite worked out that way; in fact, my Mom generally made us release all of the lightning bugs before we went in for baths and bed. Not that she had any great love of the critters; she just didn't want jelly jars full of dead bugs in the house.
Ah well. You just don't see that many lightning bugs anymore -- at least not around here. So it was a quiet pleasure to see them lighting up the field as they rose for their evening flight.
And so to bed.